Skip to main content

Well Health: How a young upstart became the country's third largest EMR provider

In just two-and-a-half years, Vancouver-based Well Health Technologies went from providing OSCAR EMR software to about 200 clinics in B.C. to a user base of almost 11,000 physicians in about 2,200 sites across the country. With its recently launched app developer marketplace, Well Health aims to turn EMRs to platforms that clinicians can customize as easily as their iPhones.
a man looking at the camera
Hamed Shahbazi, CEO of Well Health Technologies

Well Health Technologies’ acquisition of NerdEMR in January 2019 represented a barely discernible ripple in the big waters of electronic medical records in Canada.

NerdEMR was a relatively small, Vancouver-based provider of OSCAR EMR software, serving about 200 clinics in B.C. Its buyer, Well Health, was at the time of the acquisition an owner and operator of about 20 primary care clinics, mostly in the Vancouver area.

That small ripple two-and-a-half years ago has since grown into a big wave. Today, Well Health Technologies is the third leading EMR provider in the country, with its OSCAR Pro platform used by more than 10,700 physicians in about 2,200 clinics. Its enterprise-class EMR, which it acquired in April from Intrahealth, supports about 15,000 clinicians in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The company has also grown into one of the country's top providers of telehealth and, with the completion this week of another acquisition, will become Canada’s largest owner-operator of outpatient healthcare clinics, with 74 sites in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

“Close to a fifth of all doctors in Canada are now using our EMR,” said Hamed Shahbazi, who founded Vancouver-based Well Health in 2016 with the financial banking of Asia’s wealthiest man, Li Ka-shing. “Right now, we’re Number Three overall in Canada and in some provinces we’re either first or second.”

Market leadership is a key goal for Shahbazi, whose company ranks below EMR industry leader Telus Health, which lists 30,000 physician users across the country, and QHR Technologies, whose Accuro EMR is used by 18,000 physicians. Ultimately, Shahbazi said, the most visionary and innovative ideas will drive leadership in the country’s EMR market.

The vision at Well Health is an EMR platform that, much like today’s mobile phones and laptops, can be built upon with any number of apps and software. Last year, Well Health launched its marketplace, which supports third-party developers of OSCAR-compatible apps by helping them integrate their solutions into Well Health’s OSCAR Pro EMR and providing access to the company’s developer portal and support team.

For physicians who use OSCAR Pro, this translates into a potentially limitless selection of programs that they can add easily to their EMR. Think the Apple app store, where iPhone or iPad users can browse and download at will.

“We’re the only EMR you can do that with,” said Shahbazi. “Over the coming years, we’ll be adding hundreds of apps that can help your EMR operate in a different way and empower practitioners as well as patients.”

The benefits of empowering physicians and patients with the right mix of technologies are evident in Well Health’s clinics, which serve as testing grounds for the company’s vision of healthcare delivery, said Shahbazi. 

“Our wait times are down significantly and there’s just less frustration among patients and practitioners,” he said. “So many of the things that medical office assistants have to do to prepare for a patient’s visit have all been automated, including identifying which visits make sense to do virtually and which to do in person. Paying with our time is one of the issues in the Canadian healthcare system–that’s one of the things we’re changing.”

The long-term goal for Well Health is to use its EMR network to extend its chain of outpatient clinics.

“Your clinic doesn’t need to be owned by us–the idea is once you acquire our software we can share practitioners and patients with you,” said Shahbazi. “When we envision a healthcare network, our thinking isn’t just limited to our own clinics but rather hundreds of locations across the country connected by our EMR network. Ultimately it’s about creating more convenience for patients.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds